Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vacuum, Freeze, Cook

Yesterday, we discovered this little hand pump you use with special Ziploc freezer bags to create a vacuum seal. The little system was under $5, so entirely worth it in my book. It also seems that because you suck the air out through a little hole and zip and unzip like usual, the bags are also probably totally reusable unlike most vacuum sealing stuff. This meant that I had an opportunity to cook and freeze vast quantities of food. So I did. Yesterday, I made at least five pound of ravioli by hand, as in without a pasta maker. After five hours of rolling, I've determined I definitely need one. But, I now I have a ton of homemade pasta all frozen and ready to go for a quick meal. I used Martha Stewart's carrot pasta recipe and substituted as necessary. I ended up making spinach pasta and sweet potato pasta. I stuffed the spinach with feta cheese and more spinach; the sweet potato was stuffed with ricotta/mozzarella or sweet potato. It ended up being five bags with about 4-6 servings in each bag because The Breadwinner and I have little tummies so our serving sizes are pretty small.

Today, I made a bunch of single-serving pizzas with whole wheat pizza dough. They ranged from totally plain cheese pizza to spinach/ricotta/chicken/feta. This means that all together, this pile of food should provide about 30+ meals (or 15 if we're both eating). The ravioli just needs to be boiled, the pizza thrown in the toaster oven for about 20 minutes.

Part of my motivation was that I had an interview to work at a camp this summer, which means leaving the Breadwinner alone for seven weeks! It's just comforting to know that there's always something to eat no matter how busy she is.

My next mass freezing plan is burritos!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bread and Butter

Yesterday, I began the day by making butter from the fresh cream we purchased at the co-op in Burlington on Saturday.

Step 1: Pour cream into a jar with plenty of space, preferably a jar that has been in the fridge to make it nice and cold. Fresh cream tends to separate so it blocks up at the top.

Full jar of cream, ready to head on to step 2: shake shake shake. And shake. And shake.

Eventually, you'll end up with what looks like whipped cream (shaken, not stirred). That means you're about halfway done and should do step 3: put in an agitator. I usually use a baby spoon, bottle cap, or marble.

You know you're almost done when the milk starts to separate from the butter. Keep shaking until you have separated as much as possible.

Eventually, you'll have clearly defined milk and butter.

Step 4: pour off the mik.

For my last step, I mix in some olive oil to keep the butter spreadable even from the fridge.

Onward to the bread. This is the starter I made the night before. It's not bubbling very much but I didn't have time to wait around for it to develop more. The recipe, obviously, comes from Martha (Multugrain Boule Recipe). Instead of King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour, I use KA's new white whole-wheat flour. And of course, I use KA for the regular whole-wheat too!

I cheat. I never mix my dough ingredients separate from my starter, but I've never had a problem. In addition to all the yummy stuff you're supposed to add (sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seed, and wheat germ) I also added wheat bran and poppy seeds. I also substitute whole wheat flour for rye, so's to not die from my allergy.

After it's all mixed up, it's ready to sit for a little while.

After much kneading, you get a nice supple dough.

I don't have a round enough bowl, so I always end up with a kind of flat bread because the final rise is restricted by the shape of the bowl. But here she is, ready to get X'ed and go in the oven.

I apparently could not resist eating it before taking a picture.

After the Breadwinner cleared off the table last night, I set about making French toast this morning and realized that the table (aside from the Lactaid and the Starbucks coffee) looks straight out of the '50's. What you can't tell is that one of the eggs is actually a soft green color. Omnomnom green eggs.